SPOKANE, Wash. — Reece Waters scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half, Jaydon Leddy added 20 and San Diego State used a big second half to beat No. 13 Gonzaga 84-74 on Friday night.
The Aztecs (11-2) won their fourth straight and dominated for long stretches late in the first half and early in the second half to take the non-conference matchup between two of the top programs on the West Coast.
“We're definitely happy. We came into a hostile environment, a really good team, we got highly rated and we went out and did what we were supposed to do,” Waters said. “I think we're a really good team. We had two losses unfortunately but I don't think that defines us as a team.
San Diego State handed Gonzaga (9-4) its first non-conference loss at home since falling to UCLA on Dec. 12, 2015. It was the third home loss overall for the Zags since the start of the 2017 season and their first double-digit home loss since falling Against Illinois 85-74 in December 2012.
“I thought we battled and hung in there and battled and played with great spirit, but we just didn't play smart enough that whole game,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “They deserve a lot of credit for staying the course and playing great.”
After reaching the national title game last season, the Aztecs played a tough non-conference schedule, losing road games at No. 14 BYU and at Grand Canyon. A win at Gonzaga will likely be important for San Diego State's NCAA Tournament resume next March.
“We challenged ourselves. Most teams play a lot of these games at neutral sites and we decided we were going to go to Grand Canyon, we were going to go to Brigham Young University, we were going to go to Gonzaga and challenge ourselves,” San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher said.
Darion Trammell added a season-high 17 points, including 15 in the first half, and held the Aztecs together through some early struggles. But it was the end of the first half and the start of the second half where the Aztecs took control of the game and built a lead large enough to hold off Gonzaga's late surge.
The Aztecs closed the first half on an 11-2 run to take a 38-37 lead at the break, then used an 18-3 run early in the second half to take a 62-47 lead with 13:25 remaining after a Myles Byrd goal. Fast layup.
Graham Icke led Gonzaga with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Anton Watson added 16 points and Ryan Nembhard had 15 points. The Bulldogs cut the 15-point deficit to 71-67 after Nembhard's jumper with 5:43 remaining.
But Bird answered with a 3-pointer from a corner kick and Leddy scored on the fast break to quickly bring the Aztecs' lead back to nine.
“I thought we played hard. We found a way to stay focused while making enough stops and making enough passes to get the win here,” Dutcher said.
The Big Picture
San Diego State: Waters missed a free throw in the final minute of the game. It was his first time out this season after making his first 43 attempts. The Aztecs were 12 of 16 at the free throw line.
Gonzaga: Zags three-point shooting continues to be an issue. Gonzaga was 5 of 19 on 3s and failed to shoot better than 30% from behind the 3-point line for the fifth straight game.
San Diego State: The Aztecs open Mountain West action by hosting Fresno State next Wednesday.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs open WCC play against Pepperdine next Thursday across town at Spokane Arena.
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